Taking On Contactless Payments

Are you taking card payments? In the current climate unfortunately, cash is not king. In the middle of this COVID pandemic it is very much encouraged to stick to cashless payments.

In today’s world contactless is not just tapping your card on a machine, with the introduction of Apple and Google pay you don’t even need a wallet!! How can businesses take advantage of this?? You need to accept cashless payments. There are several options and will depend on the number of transactions, average spend and connectivity to other sales methods (e.g. online).

Best card payment machines for small businesses:

Card machine Price Best for
iZettle Reader £19 All-round safe choice for small businesses
SumUp Air £29 Very simple, low fixed card rate
Square Reader £19 Best free POS and payment features
Worldpay Reader £69 Round-the-clock phone support
  • Widest range of accepted cards                    
  • Fixed rate: 1.75% per transaction
  • Payment links from app for 2.5%

The UK market leader, iZettle Reader, is the most versatile card machine on our list. Its PIN pad machine is stylish, tamper-proof and comes in white or black – and there’s no setup or shipping fee. If you need to bill clients remotely, you can send a payment link via text or email invoice so the customer can pay on their phone without being close to a card payment machine. These key-in transactions cost 2.5% each.

Signing up is straightforward: on iZettle’s website, you just fill in some details about your business and bank account. They will verify your identity and perform a credit check to ensure everything is in order. In most cases, you are accepted straight away and can order the contactless payment machine immediately.

iZettle accepts contactless, chip and PIN (or signature), all costing the same fixed percentage even for foreign and premium cards. Visa, V Pay, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, JCB, Diners Club, UnionPay, Discover, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay are all accepted.

The newest iZettle Reader 2 has a simple keypad and display asking the customer to enter their PIN, or add a tip if tipping is switched on. You have to keep the card machine connected via Bluetooth to the mobile device to take payments. The iZettle app is user-friendly and feature-rich, with options to subscribe to ecommerce and more advanced features for your business.

Sum Up
  • Accepts the major card brands                     
  • Fixed rate: 1.69% per transaction
  • Payment links from app for 2.5%

It’s quick to sign up on SumUp’s website, after which you can order the card machine. Shipping takes up to a week, which is a bit longer than the other options on this list.

SumUp accepts contactless, chip and PIN, and chip and signature cards.

The card payment machine is elegant and sturdy, with a shiny, flat surface over its keypad and display. It is user-friendly with the simplified keys for PINs, and contactless cards can be tapped over the card machine display.

SumUp’s free payment app is intuitive to use. You enter a custom amount or tap to add an item from your product library. At checkout, you can choose to pay by card or cash.

The app automatically connects with the card machine via Bluetooth when you pick card as payment method, whereafter the terminal shows the appropriate payment instruction on its display.

It takes 1-3 days for payments to reach your bank account, minus the transaction fee. SumUp charges you the card fee for refunds if the payment has been paid out already.

SumUp users automatically have access to Mobile Payments (SMS, QR codes, payment links) at no monthly cost and a 2.5% transaction fee. Eligible merchants may also apply for SumUp Virtual Terminal, which requires SumUp’s approval.

  • Most comprehensive free app                      
  • Fixed rate: 1.75% per transaction
  • Link & phone payments for 2.5%

Square Reader is the smallest, most light-weight card machine on this list. Instead of a PIN pad on the card reader, PIN codes are entered on your mobile screen in the free Point of Sale app. The Reader is literally a square-shaped, plastic card machine that’s white all over, but the technology makes it just as reliable as standard POS machines.

To get it, you first fill in Square’s sign-up pages online, then order the Square Reader. It takes about four days to get your bank account verified, but you can start taking payments before that.

The mobile device will automatically connect to the card machine via Bluetooth – provided they are paired already – when ready to accept the card.

Square accepts contactless cards and mobile wallets, chip and PIN, and chip and signature cards. Included in the package is also a magstripe reader to plug into the earphone socket on your mobile device (for international magnetic stripe cards only).

A decent range of cards are accepted, including Visa, V Pay, Mastercard, Maestro, and American Express. The card machine also accepts Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

It’s simple to add items from your product library to the shopping cart or enter a custom amount at checkout, before choosing payment method.

Hands down, the Square POS app has the most features of all the free card machine apps. On top of the free app features relevant to retailers and food-and-drink businesses, you get email invoicing, an in-browser virtual terminal for phone payments and payment links at no extra monthly cost apart from a 2.5% transaction fee applicable to all keyed-in payments. Entering card details in the app is possible at checkout.

Payments are usually deposited in your bank account the day after each transaction, depending on your bank’s processing times. Immediate pay-outs are also possible for an added 1% fee per transaction. Refunds are free to process, i.e. both the transaction amount you received, and Square’s fee are returned to the customer.

  • 24/7 phone support                                       
  • Fees depend on turnover and more
  • Traditional payment company

Worldpay Reader is Worldpay’s attempt to break into the app-based mobile payment market. It is the priciest card machine on this list, costing £69 + VAT plus “purchase fee” if you choose the pay-as-you-go plan without lock-in. After that, you pay a transaction fee determined by your monthly turnover, plus extra fees for premium cards and transaction authorisation fees. There is also a rental plan starting at £4.99/month, but this involves an 18-month contract.

You can order the Worldpay Reader card machine by signing up online, after which you will receive a quote on the fees.

Beware that Worldpay may not be transparent about all fees, so make sure you get them to explain all the costs and responsibilities involved. For instance, they require PCI compliance, and if you fail to complete certain paperwork, you will be charged a £9.99 PCI non-compliance fee every month.

Worldpay only accepts Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, and settlements take up to three days. The card machine is the same as that used by PayPal Here.

The accompanying Worldpay POS app is straightforward and frequently updated. There’s a product library with images you can tap to add to the bill, or enter a custom item, before proceeding to payment by card.

The mobile device will connect with the card machine through Bluetooth so the customer can enter their PIN on the keypad, swipe a card or tap a contactless card, phone or Apple Watch.

It’s possible to send email invoices, accept over-the-the-phone payments and remote payments via payment links, but these incur extra costs from Worldpay.

Worldpay’s main advantage is the free phone support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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